CW Interiors |
 
Inspiring Designer | November 2013

Furniturewallah!

Not just any furniturewalla, the Lalit Hira brand carries in its name innovation, style, comfort and mass appeal an unbeatable mix for Indian and international markets

He can easily be called an avante-garde furniture designer. In an era where modular is in vogue, Lalit Hira makes a conscious effort to push the envelope and create furniture design that is unique and yet practical, useful and able to cater to a quality conscious market. CW INTERIORS in a tete-a-tete with the designer who is creating ripples here and abroad...

You are an interior designer as well as a furniture designer. Which of these interests you more?
Both furniture and interior designing is a gratifying experience for me. My prolific portfolio includes residential, corporate, commercial and hospitality segments and extends to a post-production studio, a research laboratory, and also a fine art gallery besides other innovative retail projects. I have been doing this for over thirty years under the banner of my own firm, Project Designers. But now I want to reach out to a universal audience. Essentially the common man with my signature design. My design, my brand Lalit Hira Designs was launched in 2007 and collaborates with Indian as well as international manufacturers. At LHD, we license furniture designs from our portfolio to quality-sensitive mass-market marketers/ manufacturers having sound technical, financial and marketing capabilities as well as the means to ensure that the final product reaches the consumers in bulk quantities during the term of the proposed license agreement.

Your designs are greatly appreciated by the international market and you have been featured at international fairs.
My most recent creation, which I call TaC, the folding chair and my foot stool design christened Puchka were featured at London Design Festival 2013. TaC is proposed as a lightweight, easy-to-use and space saving design that appeals to the eye and is classic yet contemporary; designed to blend into any ambiance. A highlight of the chair is that it can stand upright without support when folded, unlike most folding chairs that require a surface to lean against.

Puchka has been inspired by the street food gol gappa or puchka. The footstool is a concept of furniture that extends the use of the raw material in a flexi-flat-pack version, where the form challenges the basic constraint of the formation of soft surfaces. Designed to give tired human legs a piece of furniture that could create a flat surface in any momentarily desired angle, it is constructed with simple joinery details, completely eliminating the use of any hardware whatsoever. Both these products can be manufactured either in metal or plastic. Generally the concepts are such that one can play with the choice of materials. Both these designs may look extremely simple but therein lies its charm. It is how the concept is engineered that is important and becomes the key to production.

So, are you making any design for an international manufacturer?
We have had quite a few interactions with manufacturers abroad and are in conversation with some individuals and agencies. We are looking forward to the developments. My design christened ´Ybut was´ nominated in the innovative product category at JEC show in Paris in April 2008, and the same was later showcased at the Home Show February 2009 in USA. The Ybut has garnered a lot of appreciation. I have furthered the design and am now looking out for manufacturers/ marketers for Ybut in India.

What kind of work or product is appreciated by the international market?
This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Most of the big guys have established brands and a loyal customer base for each of these individual brands.

Do you have any product lines that are inspired by Indian architecture and culture?
My roots are very much Indian, and I am always tempted to incorporate the Indian flavour in my designs but with the global audience constantly at the back of my mind, my designs are slightly subtler.

Have you created anything specifically created for an international audience?
I try to create designs that have a more universal appeal, and a timeless feel; most major manufacturers and marketers have a global presence and they too prefer to work with designs that are more universal, thereby it is easier for them to amortize R&D expenditures easily.

There are very few product designers in India. What do you think is the reason?
On the contrary, there are plenty of product designers in India, and with the growing number of design institutes all over the country and students registering in international universities, the numbers are multiplying each year. More and more Indian manufacturers and marketers now appreciate the value of design, and accept the fact that just like their counterparts in other parts of the globe, they too can compete on value rather than just the price or by merely compromising on the quality. Quite a few Indian product designers have also won prestigious international awards like the ´Red Dot´ and ´IF´.

According to you, who are the Indian designers who are creating ripples in the international market?
Two names that come to mind immediately are Mahindra Chauhan and Avinash Shende. Mahindra´s design--Titan Skeletal Edge was declared winner for Red Dot Product Design 2013. Avinash Shende is faculty at the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati. One of his designs, a chair is into production by a Germany based furniture company, named WILDE+SPIETH.

And are there any Indian companies that are working with international designers?
Magppie International and Wipro Furniture claim to be working with various international designers. Additionally there are also a lot of other MSME units working with local designers. The India Design Council is promoting this activity via the design cell located in NID.

You have also recently started a magazine for the design conscious. How did that come about?
India Art n Design is an e-magazine that I started in 2011 for the creative-minded, design conscious, globally aware art and design enthusiasts, who rejoice in the distinct design flare and superlative ethos of Indian creativity. Its readership spans art and design connoisseurs, architects, designers and design enthusiasts in India and overseas, which include eminent professionals and the growing student community. Our four major sections: Home (India); Product Hub (product showcase); Global Hop (art n design from across the globe) and Art Gallery (Indian contemporary art online) make for a pleasurable interaction with our growing reader base of home-makers and professionals alike, world over.

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